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About French Micronationalism

The specificities of Francophone micronationalism by Olivier Touzeau, guest author of

The Imperial Couple of Angyalistan accompanying the guests of the second Microfrancophonie summit in Vincennes in 2018.

The micronational fact has a vocation: to propose other visions, other approaches to the logic of organized political community, other modes of “making a State”. And consequently, a question is asked: do micronations have the audacity to transcend, to go beyond the cultural bath in which they are born?

This is not certain, because we find in the micronational world a dichotomy that somewhat recalls some of the major fault lines that cross the West.

" Micronational summits, there are few. Intermicronational organizations, on the other hand, aplethora. "

The insolent success of the Organization de la Microfrancophonie which, despite the postponements of events linked to the pandemic, despite the natural tensions that may exist between some of its members – we are not all made to love each other! – allows us to explore this question even further. Micronational summits, there are few. Intermicronational organizations, on the other hand, aplethora. Most do not long resist the temptation of conflict, narcissistic dissension, or immobility and passivity. The microfrancophonie has succeeded in the tour de force of anchoring itself in the long term – almost seven years, it is enormous in the wacky world of intermicronational organizations – and of organizing meetings, summits worthy of the name. Is this vitality the mark of a francophone specificity? Infinitely less numerous than in the Anglo-Saxon world, are the French-speaking micronations the heirs of something that gives them this drive?

As we know, the generating event of micronationalism is generally an individual demiurgic act. Long before the micronational movement of today, the time of explorers, from the Great Discoveries to colonialism, generated its share of shady kingdoms and principalities. In this field, the Francophones were not the last, in the logic that led them to constitute one of the great colonial empires in history...

From the King of Nuku Hiva, Joseph Kabris, to the pirate Jean Laffitte in Louisiana, from the Field of Asylum for Bonapartist mercenaries led by General François Antoine Lallemand to the Sonora of the buccaneer Charles de Raousset-Boulbon, Antoine de Tounens, King of 'Araucanie, to Jean-Baptiste Onésime Dutrou-Bornier, ephemeral master of Easter Island, from the Republic of Guyana-Counani of MM. Gros, Guigues and Quartier to the kingdom of the Sedangs of the French adventurer Marie-Charles David de Mayrena, and to the Empire of the Sahara of Jacques Lebaudy: settlers, pirates, crooks, madmen… The table of French precursors is consistent with what is happening at the same time in the Anglo-Saxon world.

Jean Laffite, the Pirate was known as the 'Terror of the Gulf of Mexico', Portrait from 1864

In the 20th century, things changed… Let us mention at the beginning of the century the Île d’Or, rock of which Auguste Lutaud proclaimed himself king, and which became a place of sumptuous receptions for the socialite society of the surroundings. Let us mention the hotel or gastronomic micronations: Arbézie, Republic of Figuerolles, Sovereign State of Ile Barbe, Free Commune of Pan Bagnat, Principality of Armagnac… Tourism has therefore been a strong axis of French-speaking micronational development. Its logical extension is joining a community based not just on a local identity, but on shared values... Let's take a closer look, because that's what interests us most, about community projects: It is with them that the micronational concept finds its most brilliant French-speaking illustrations: Republic of Saugeais of course, and Republic of Montmartre.

Now let's take a look at the Microfrancophony. On the side of Aigues-Mortes: social, cultural, promotional action, ecological concerns, promotion of a shared identity…. The many projects that you all know speak for themselves... Hélianthis proposes for its part to work for the safeguarding of the citadel of Blaye and its heritage, but also acts in the cultural and social field, with a particular concern human rights and solidarity. The Principality of Deux-Acren relies on a solid local culture, rich in strong community traditions. Flandrensis, Anthophilia build their action around the defense of the environment and the support of their citizens for their vision. Ditto in Angyalistan, where this concern is mixed with the idea that poetry can save the world and that while waiting to achieve this it unites goodwill. Human rights are at the heart of the project of the Anacratic Republic of Padrhom, the values ​​of progress and tolerance in the State of Sandus, local action with a social vocation in the African territories of Nova Troy, progressive values and attention to the causes of indigenous peoples in the Republic of Saint-Castin. Etc., etc.

" In many cases, the micronation is first and foremost a work of individual enhancement, whether for ego reasons or for… fiscal… reasons. "

This panorama of communities built around common projects, values ​​and ideals contrasts seriously with the entities discussed at the beginning of this presentation. There is undoubtedly an effect of generation and era on the meaning of micronations. When we look at the origin in general of the micronational fact, there is often a man, very rarely a woman, sometimes a small group of men, and always in any case a narcissism. In many cases, the micronation is primarily a work of individual valorization, whether for ego reasons or for tax reasons... Most of the micronations that flourish all year round in forums and networks revolve around self-esteem. This is particularly true, it seems to me, in the Anglo-Saxon world, but French speakers do not escape this pitfall.

If the examples of community micronations, of project micronations do exist in the Anglo-Saxon world (and especially in the Scandinavian world: I am thinking of Ladonia, Christiania, Elleore…; I am also thinking of Slavovia in Canada), the The United States and Australia, lands of micronations par excellence, have accustomed us to frequent phenomena of extreme valorization of the person of the founders.

A house in the Free Town of Christiania in Copenhagen (Denmark)

Not everything is white, not everything is black, and it is not a question of condemning the micronationalists who have built nations that are self-centered and turned towards the sole pleasure of their own existence: but it seems that the border between Saxons and Latins is expressed here. The one that separates – because it must be recognized, the phenomenon is primarily Western – the Catholic centralism of the Latins, who build communities around a leader, and the Protestant individualism of the Saxons, who leave room for free will. quite different.

In any case, the place of micronations centered on the notion of project and shared value seems, empirically, stronger in the French-speaking world than elsewhere.

What grounds micronational citizenship is the voluntary nature of citizenship. We can see a link with Renan's notion of nation, which involves membership. And perhaps, in fact, the English to French translation of the word "micronation" has something to do with this phenomenon. The difference in meaning between the English-speaking nation and the French-style nation has perhaps carried within itself the seeds of a kind of French-speaking specificity of micronational realities, where adherence to a project surpasses the individual ambition that designed it.

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